Career Woman

The real cost of workplace bullying


Workplace bullying is a problem that’s often overlooked, but if it’s dismissed or not treated early enough, it can become extremely costly to a business.

Where there is a mix of personalities there is bound to be conflict and when conflict escalates it can often lead to bullying. While most businesses advocate for a bullyfree workplace, many fail to implement a strategy for their employees to follow when bullying occurs.This unfortunately means that the root causeis rarely addressed.

Bullying is costly. The Australian Human Rights Commission has estimated that up to $36 billion dollars is lost each year from Australian businesses due to  the effects of workplace bullying. These costs can be attributed to losses in productivity, sickness, law suits and even reputational damage.

The best way to combat bullying is for businesses to equip and develop their teams. Modern approaches such as workshops to address workplace bullyinghave shown exceptional success in helping to bring workers closer together, overcoming differences and increasing productivity and morale.

If left unattended, workplace bullying can lead to a number of different problems including:

Consistent chances of lawsuits

Workers left to feud and treat colleagues badly will eventually end up pushing too far, resulting in costly workplace bullying lawsuits. Whether it is sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying or other inappropriate action, if workers aren’t properly trained then the chances of expensive lawsuits will only continue to increase.

Decreased morale and productivity

Employees who are victims of workplace bullying will not feel safe coming to work. They may miss deadlines, call in sick or avoid the people they work with.

The effect of workplace bullying will lead to a stifled atmosphere and lowered morale. If left too long, a soured work relationship can weigh down entire departments and cause significant losses in sales and productivity.

Higher turnover of employees

Research indicates that an employee’s decision to leave an organisation is heavily influenced by bullying behaviour, as they may feel that resigning from their job is the only way to stop harassment. In other cases, those who are the source of the bullying may also have to be let go.

Employees who leave your business will take all their experience and knowledge with them, resulting in a loss of time and money spent investing in them. Recruiting and training new employees will take up valuable resources, which could be better spent on preventative measures.

Loss of reputation

In an increasingly online world, reputation is more important than ever. Employees who are the victims of workplace bullying will take those grievances with them into new jobs and are likely to tell friends, familyor even leave public reviews. This could cause huge damage to a business’ reputation, regardless of whether the claims are true or false. Loss of reputation can also make it difficult to hire new staff, as your business may become known as an undesirable place to work.

Finding a solution

Traditionally, businesses deal with workplace bullying on a superficial level,by stating in their policies and proceduresor code of conduct that it won’t be tolerated. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t prepare or equip employees to handle real life situations. Employers need to go further bytraining employees on how to handle workplace bullying.

Developing a targeted and proactive strategy for improving workplace behaviour can be a cost-effective way for businesses to invest in their future. Positive employee relations not only help a business avoid conflict and bullying behaviour, but will also contribute to improvements in productivity and morale.

About Daniel Defendi'

This piece was written by Daniel Defendi, who recommends the Future Institute of Australia for help in combatting workplace bullying. You can catch him on LinkedIn to discuss this piece.

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